Friday, January 29, 2010

China Commitment To Anti-Piracy Task Force Good News For Shipping

Significant Step in International Cooperation
Shipping News Feature

SOMALIA – In a significant development the Chinese have agreed to integrate their anti-piracy patrols off of the Horn of Africa with those of the EU, NATO and the US. Up until now the Chinese had largely limited their operations to protecting their own shipping in the region and this latest move is a major step for international cooperation in combating the menace.

The Chinese will now fully join the Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (SHADE) alliance which defends shipping in a protected route through the waters close to Somalia where attacks are frequent.

The three Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) warships currently patrolling the area will now coordinate fully with other nation’s convoy efforts in protecting the route and the Chinese will take part in the rolling chairmanship of the naval task force.

The new level of consensus is part of an plan agreed last year and a result of an increasing awareness in China of the need for their military to play a greater role in world security issues in order to protect their interests internationally.

The new agreement is also hoped to assuage the concerns of other nations in its own geo-political region, as well as the USA, who for several years have voiced concerns over China’s navy turning from a modest ‘white-water’, or largely coastal fleet, to one with significant power-projection potential.

It should also help quiet the increasing clamour amongst the Chinese public who become increasingly vocal about their nations need to assert itself more fully on the international scene, especially after the seizure of the bulk vessel De Xin Hai last year by Somali pirates.

Whatever the Geo-political reasons, any agreement that improves security in the waters of Somalia and Yemen will be welcome by those involved in the shipping industry. Last year saw 217 reported incidents and 47 vessels hijacked off of the coast of Somalia.

(pic: © China Military Online)